Magazine article The Christian Century

Countering the Darkness: Fiction Writer Ron Rash

Magazine article The Christian Century

Countering the Darkness: Fiction Writer Ron Rash

Article excerpt

AS A POET, novelist, and short story writer, Ron Rash tells haunting tales of the American South, particularly of the North Carolina and Tennessee mountains. While his stories are stark, they hint at larger mysteries and marvel at the human capacity for wonder in the midst of suffering. His most recent collection of stories is Something Rich and Strange (see the review on p. 35).

Your stories often exist on the border between realism and wonder. Do you think of yourself as a realist writer?

I am commenting on real conditions, both past and present, not so much as an advocate, but as a witness. That's the way I hope my work comes across. Yet wonder is a part of human reality as well.

What inspired your first story?

Unlike a lot of my writer friends who started writing early, I didn't try it out until I was in college. The first story was about my uncle, a man who had come to a serious time in his life, who had lost his family and his job.

Some of your stories are breathtaking in their violence, and yet the overall effect is not depressing. How is that?

In fiction, as in real life, a person's character is often best revealed in extreme situations. If people read me to be titillated by violence, then I have failed, because violence is just a means to understand my characters better.

My hope is that the pleasure of the language helps counter the darkness. That's what makes Cormac McCarthy's works or a play like King Lear bearable. Even in the midst of darkness, something beautiful is being transmitted.

I believe that most of my characters do the best they can with the hands they've been dealt. I am not a cynic. I am not a nihilist. I hope I show characters that the readers can recognize as being human, even in extreme circumstances.

We've been talking about the realism of your work, but myth and archetype are also present.

I hope my work can be read on multiple levels. For example, Serena is a realistic novel depicting the North Carolina mountains during the Depression, but I was also hoping the reader would recognize a mythological level in it--references to Medea, for example. I am fascinated with Carl Jung's idea of the collective unconscious and the idea that we share certain stories deep in our consciousness. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.